PPT mouthpieces

How hard do you squeeze?

MandyH

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How hard do you squeeze to close the pads onto the tone holes??

I had my alto serviced locally and instantly couldn’t get the bell notes!
I took it back and he did a couple of tweaks which helped, but I didn’t feel it was right.
The tech said the sax “sub-toned beautifully” and he had no problem playing it. But I still did.

I took it somewhere else (due to a lack of confidence?) and he found a different leak & did some regulation adjustments and things are much better.

I made a leak light following Stephen Howard’s web-site guidance and poked it down my alto & discovered a couple of pads that close fully if I really squeeze, but I have a feeling that I am a “gentle” player.

Could this be why I had the problems and the tech doesn’t?

Is he more heavy when closing the keys?

Do I squeeze too gently?
Should I squeeze harder?
Should all the keys close on a gentle squeeze?

Frustrated!
 
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Ideally pads should close with the gentlest of pressure. Squeezing will distract you, slow you down and give you popeye fore arms.
A tech that sets up a horn for himself is missing the point imo. It needs setting up for you.
Learning to do a tweak or two yourself will give you confidence in your horn andpay dividends in terms of playing in the long run.
I can't imagine Paul Desmond using a gorilla grip on Emily. ;)
 
You shouldn't have to squeeze at all.

OK, a sax is never going to have as precise an action as, say, a top-end flute. The keys are larger and heavier - and so the springs need to be proportionally stronger to balance it all out...plus there's a greater degree of flex in the keywork.
But what you should have is a very 'definite' feel to the action with just a light finger pressure.

I get an awful lot of horns in that are 'working just fine, mostly' - and indeed, when the clients blow them they seem to have little trouble reaching the bottom notes. And then when I play them I typically find the whole thing goes to pot round about low F.
They've just got used to compensating for the faults - or they've never played on a horn that's been properly set up.

Whether you're a gentle player or a 'gripper' - the pads should be set so that they close and seal with an almost impractically light finger pressure.
 
Tension in Fingers (leads to tension in), Wrists, Forearms, Upper Arms, Shoulders, Neck, Jaw, Face and down the back etc etc

And that's just while typing this, let alone playing me sax.

I wonder why we tend to grip things harder when we're relatively inexperienced or not particularly talented? Maybe it's an unconscious sense of control or fear of failing, or falling? Gripping the handle bars when learning to ride a bike (an obvious one, I suppose), gripping a pen when learning to write (I think I'm still a victim of that occasionally, probably due to the fact I don't use a pen that much), Amateur golfers ruin their golf swing thinking they need to grip it hard to hit it further. Same with other bat and racket sports and instruments too.

Just need to relax..
 
A horn with poor regulation will leak. Gripping or squeezing will compress cork, felt and leather or flex the mechanism to compensate and seal the leak. It has nothing to do with relaxing or inexperience. Weltklang low A baritone players will understand. ;)
 
A horn with poor regulation will leak. Gripping or squeezing will compress cork, felt and leather or flex the mechanism to compensate and seal the leak. It has nothing to do with relaxing or inexperience. Weltklang low A baritone players will understand. ;)

In some circumstances, pressing the keys down harder can make the leak worse. Bell keys are the main culprits - the key barrels flex under the stress, and the strain causes the key cups to lift at the rear of the tonehole.
So you press even harder...and so on...
 
A horn with poor regulation will leak. Gripping or squeezing will compress cork, felt and leather or flex the mechanism to compensate and seal the leak. It has nothing to do with relaxing or inexperience. Weltklang low A baritone players will understand. ;)

And horn regulation wasn't what I was referring to. I was commenting on the Human capacity to tense up and grip harder than they need to under certain circumstances.
 

Yes. I thought your response I quoted in post #7, mentioning relaxation etc was the reason for your 'respectfully disagree' reaction to my post #4. Clearly that wasn't the case and you were respectfully disagreeing about something else then?

EDIT: @Colin the Bear In response to your 'I don't understand' that makes two of us. Oh well. Life goes on.
 
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Some excellent answers have been given already. If your tech doesn't use the lightest possible finger pressure when leveling pads and adjusting regulation, you need to find a tech who does. Of course a sax may be "playable" if excess pressure is used to close poorly installed or regulated pads. My experience is that key work in this condition makes a saxophone much less dependable over time because as the pads leak more and require more pressure to close, keys can get bent creating even bigger leaks. Also materials used between contact points can "overly" compress interfering with good regulation.
 
I guess the ideal is just enough to outweigh the springs. “Classic “ technique will try and instill that you are as light as possible so that the fingers are relatively relaxed - just like the “ideal” tonguing technique.
Just how heavy the greats are/have been is anyone’s guess. Height/travel of fingers will play a big part and the less travel between “off and on” will usually greatly impact the heaviness of the fingers.
Heavy fingers have less of an impact all-round as on the clarinet - “finger slap” creates a rather audible sound inside the bore. Playing classical music, using a pp dynamic that goes to 1db is quite common, so finger slap is a real problem. Perhaps this is also so with classical sax, but I have no experience of that - can someone else chime in with this one? @jbtsax?
 
I attended a master class given by Don Sinta when I was in college. I remember him saying closing the keys should feel like squishing a banana between your fingers. Dr. Ray Smith who plays both jazz and classical saxophone stresses the concept that it is the fingers that provide the rhythmic accuracy so "popping" the keys shut takes precedence over smoothly closing them. Of course, it varies with the tempo and style of the music. This video give an example of his technique.

 
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I had a lesson off Ben Clatworthy last year and he told me off for ‘gripping’ (he actually slapped my fingers) :rofl: i can handle it !

He then said “play the saxophone as if you were playing with the most beautiful woman in the world...gently”
I may have added to it but was on those lines :D
Mandy in your case your hubby ;)
 
I had my tech jack up the spring tension to improve high speed response. I play flat finger and can’t feel the difference in my muscles. Perhaps doing stonework as a hobby has something to do with it LOL.
 

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